Manuel V. Pangilinan and Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres: an exchange of letters on the Ateneo de Manila University commencement speech scandal

Commencement Address of Manuel V. Pangilinan to Ateneo’s Sesquicentennial Batch (Editor’s Note)

date posted: 2010-04-03 21:08:00

Concerns have been raised about the commencement speeches delivered by Mr. Manuel V Pangilinan, chairman of the Ateneo Board of Trustees, last March 26 and 27, which were previously posted on this site.

Below, we post the statements of Mr. Pangilinan and Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, SJ, president of Ateneo de Manila University, contained in their exchange of emails stemming from the said expressed concerns. We are sharing these with the community for its enlightenment.

Thank you very much.

The Ateneo Web Team

Dear Father Ben

Easter greetings!

I have been told last night that portions of my graduation remarks – in particular my address to the Schools of Humanities and Social  Sciences – had been borrowed from certain other graduation speeches.

I had taken a look at the side-by-side comparison @ Facebook, and must admit to this mistake.

For this, I wish to express my sincerest apology to you, the University and to the 2010 graduating class.

I have had some help in the drafting of my remarks, but I take full and sole responsibility for them.

In mitigation perhaps, the body and substance of my speech represented my own story and my thoughts.  And I have labored long hours to get those speeches done.  It is my hope that their impact has not been lost on the graduates. That said, this post  fact event I am certain has devalued the words I have uttered at graduation – whether original or copied.

I am told further that comments posted on Facebook have started to spill beyond graduation, and are now alluding to my misconduct with respect to Meralco, with former President Erap, and so forth.  Under the circumstances, it is best for the Ateneo and myself to shorten the life of this controversy and prevent it from spinning out of control.

Fr Ben, this has been a source of deep personal embarrassment for me.

I am truly regretful for it.  I already have too many battles to fight, and some of them I wish not to have to fight.  In this instance, I do not want to, and would seek only the honourable  and principled way out.  The matter at hand may rest after this public apology, but it gives me a lot of  personal discomfort to continue to be closely involved with Ateneo affairs after this incident.  I am afraid the damage has been done – wala talaga akong mukhang ihaharap pagkatapos.

With much regret, Fr Ben, I would wish to retire from my official duties at the Ateneo.

With all good wishes to you and to our graduates.

M. V. P.

Dear Manny,

I received your apology just a few minutes ago and feel how deeply embarrassed and pained you are by this event. We realize that this was a mistake and we respect and appreciate your taking responsibility and your immediate apology.

At the same time, we know that this happened without your full awareness, though you take full and sole responsibility.  Thus this does not diminish our admiration and respect for your person and for your care and accomplishments for our country and for the Ateneo. In fact, your acceptance of responsibility and apology command our utmost respect.

In reading again through your speeches, we also see that indeed the main part of your speeches were your story and your thoughts. We thank you for taking so much time to craft them and to share them with us and our graduates. We are deeply touched by this sharing of yourself.

Again I realize how profoundly embarrassed you are by this event and that you believe that resigning from official duties at the Ateneo is the principled thing for you to do. However, reflecting on the events and circumstances, I cannot quite agree, and I believe with many others that what is appropriate is the apology you have given.  Neither can I agree with you that “wala talaga akong mukhang ihaharap pagkatapos.”  I would thus like to take up your retiring from official duties at the Ateneo with our officials and Board of Trustees and discuss it further with you.

It is Easter Vigil and may the Risen Christ be Light to you.

Fr. Ben, S.J.

About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

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